In a significant move to support the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers, 11 police departments in Massachusetts have been awarded nearly $800,000 in grant funding from the state government. The grant aims to enhance critical incident stress management services for first responders in the aftermath of stressful and traumatic events.
The funding was part of a state program initiated by the governor and lieutenant governor, which distributed a total of $792,371 to the Abington, Cambridge, Charlton, Holbrook, Lawrence, Leominster, Peabody, Plymouth, Taunton, Topsfield and Yarmouth police departments. Known as the Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Grant Program, it is designed to address the documented impacts of post-traumatic stress on emergency responders. Recognizing the toll that traumatic events can take, the program ensures that necessary mental health services and resources are available to support their well-being.
In a statement, Governor Maura Healey emphasized the importance of providing essential critical incident stress management services. “We owe it to our first responders to ensure that they have the mental health services and resources in place to support their health and well-being after they experience trauma in the line of duty,” she said.
Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll echoed this sentiment, highlighting the bravery of law enforcement officers and their commitment to running toward danger while others seek safety.
“Every day, members of law enforcement face potential threats and uncertainty. When a critical incident occurs, police and other first responders run toward danger as others run away. These grants provide support to first responders who experience a traumatic event and ensure appropriate access to quality mental health services and peer counseling,” Driscoll said.
Under the CISM Grant Program, each department receiving funding employs emergency service providers who are certified by either the Massachusetts Peer Support Network or the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. These certified professionals are equipped to provide crucial services to first responders, helping them navigate the emotional aftermath of traumatic events.
While the grant was exclusively available to municipal police departments, several of the awarded departments collaborate with or support programs that extend services beyond their own agency. This broader reach ensures that police and other first responders in need of assistance can access quality mental health services and peer counseling.
The grant program, administered by the Office of Grants and Research (OGR), falls under the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). The funding covers various aspects, including counseling personnel, training, outreach and other necessary expenses to meet the needs of emergency responders who have experienced traumatic events.
Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy stressed the significance of crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, highlighting their role in ensuring the well-being of emergency responders who have faced critical incidents.
“Members of law enforcement deserve our support in the aftermath of traumatic events. Crisis intervention, suicide prevention and other services are vital to ensuring the wellbeing of emergency responders who have experienced a traumatic or critical incident. Investing in these services supports the health and safety of police officers, their families, and their communities,” Reidy said.
OGR Executive Director Kevin Stanton further emphasized the importance of addressing officers’ mental health needs and addressed the role of the grant in supporting emergency responders during and after crises.
“The public often has the opportunity to see emergency responders in action, but not the toll that this work takes. The Critical Incident Stress Management Grant Program helps provide services that officers need and deserve when they’ve experienced a traumatic event,” Stanton explained. “Our first responders provide lifesaving services in times of crisis; the resources delivered through this grant can help save emergency responders in the aftermath of crisis.”
State Senator Mark Montigny, who played a key role in establishing the state’s first peer support pilot program in 2018, emphasized the necessity of providing quality mental health services and peer support to combat stigma and improve policing. Representative Kathy LaNatra echoed this sentiment, expressing her legislative commitment to ensuring access to mental health and support services for all first responders.
Officials and lawmakers agreed that by addressing mental health challenges in law enforcement, these programs not only benefit the individuals but also contribute to stronger and safer communities throughout Massachusetts.